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Monday, August 10, 2009

Director Of CBO Shreds Another Obamacare Lie

Preventative medicine, as would be a focus in Obamacare is supposed to save money in the longterm..... this is the lie that the Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas W. Elmendorf, just shredded in a letter to Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Ga. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., and Joe Barton, R-Texas.

Via Political Punch:

"Although different types of preventive care have different effects on spending, the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall," Elmendorf wrote. "That result may seem counterintuitive.

"For example, many observers point to cases in which a simple medical test, if given early enough, can reveal a condition that is treatable at a fraction of the cost of treating that same illness after it has progressed. In such cases, an ounce of prevention improves health and reduces spending — for that individual," Elmendorf wrote. "But when analyzing the effects of preventive care on total spending for health care, it is important to recognize that doctors do not know beforehand which patients are going to develop costly illnesses. To avert one case of acute illness, it is usually necessary to provide preventive care to many patients, most of whom would not have suffered that illness anyway. ... Researchers who have examined the effects of preventive care generally find that the added costs of widespread use of preventive services tend to exceed the savings from averted illness."

Linda Douglass, the communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform, tries to argue the point, by stating "we can't forget that many of the benefits of prevention will accrue to the Federal government in thel long term as opposed to the near term. Prevention results in longer, healthier, more productive lives -- yielding savings that don't typically show up on a score sheet. We have to return to common sense: keeping people out of a doctor's office or hospitals saves money. Seventy-five per cent of our health care spending goes to treat chronic diseases, many of which could be prevented from developing in the first place . Proven preventive services are worth it."

Elmendorf shreds that particular misleading statement as well.

Elmendorf cited an article published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine which he said provides a good summary of the available evidence on how preventive care affects costs..

The article by Joshua T. Cohen, Peter J. Neumann and Milton C. Weinstein, “Does Preventive Care Save Money? Health Economics and the Presidential Candidates,” was recently updated and can be read HERE.

The authors of that NEJM study wrote that "Sweeping statements about the cost-saving potential of prevention ... are overreaching. Studies have concluded that preventing illness can in some cases save money but in other cases can add to health care costs. For example, screening costs will exceed the savings from avoided treatment in cases in which only a very small fraction of the population would have become ill in the absence of preventive measures. Preventive measures that do not save money may or may not represent cost-effective care (i.e., good value for the resources expended). Whether any preventive measure saves money or is a reasonable investment despite adding to costs depends entirely on the particular intervention and the specific population in question."

The authors based their conclusions on an analysis of the Tufts–New England Medical Center Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Registry. They concluded, "Although some preventive measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not."

Wrote Elemendorf, "After reviewing hundreds of previous studies of preventive care, the authors report that slightly fewer than 20 percent of the services that were examined save money, while the rest add to costs."

20 percent of the services saved money, while 80 percent of those services raised the costs of the plans.

Considering news just came out about America's deficit being raised by "$181 billion in July" raising the full deficit to the $1.3 trillion mark, the last thing we need is the expense of Obamacare tacked on to our ever growing deficit.

The CBO concludes by showing an example of what they mean:

CBO also cited a study in Circulation magazine called "The Impact of Prevention on Reducing the Burden of Cardiovascular Disease" (read it HERE) that "estimated the effects of achieving widespread use of several highly recommended preventive measures aimed at cardiovascular disease — such as monitoring blood pressure levels for diabetics and cholesterol levels for individuals at high risk of heart disease and using medications to reduce those levels. The researchers found that those steps would substantially reduce the projected number of heart attacks and strokes that occurred but would also increase total spending on medical care because the ultimate savings would offset only about 10 percent of the costs of the preventive services, on average."
Obama and the Democrats pushing for Obamacare continue to lie to the public, claiming this and that and other things will "save money" over the long run and that the CBO doesn't give proper credit to what would be saved, but Elmendorf actually cites case studies which prove every word about Obamacare coming from Obama and Democrats to be the lies they are and Elmendorf has done his homework on the issue and does, indeed, give credit to the savings, while telling the truth about how the costs will completely negate the savings and in fact make Obamacare more costly to the American people, who would be paying for all this via taxes.

[Update] CBO blog has more from Elmendorf.